The Government of Belize has set April 10, 2019, as the date for Belize’s referendum. COLA, a grassroots organization which is anti- ICJ, has weighed in on this latest development. In this regard, COLA said that Belize will be putting everything on the line. Love News caught up with the President of COLA, Geovanni Brackett who shared why his organization is against taking Guatemala’s territorial, maritime and insular claim to the International Court of Justice.
Geovanni Brackett, President of COLA: “We believe that this problem or this issue is from a political few in Guatemala and we should be stretching out our arms to our comrades in Commonwealth, for example Commonwealth just sent out a statement reassuring to recognize Belize’s independence, CARICOM sent out a very strong statement in the past and it’s things like that we need to do. If anything we need to do is maybe get a legal opinion that is not binding at the International Court of Justice rather than going to something that is binding and we stand to loose. And so we at COLA we sent out a strong message we were one of the first organizations to actually have a no ICJ position. We’ve written two papers on it and we’ve given that to Stewart Leslie, we consulted with former ambassadors and now we are saying as the date is set now COLA will be ramping up it’s advocacy plan and strategies and any initiative by the Government to coerce or force our voters, even to buy voting to go to and IJC will be met by fierce resistance by COLA.”
COLA is furious about the Government of Belize congratulating Guatemala on conducting their referendum since it was a move which should have been seen as a provocation by Guatemala. However, there was no provocation in one of President Jimmy Morales’s tweet in which he congratulated the Barrow Administration in setting a date for the referendum. In his tweet, President Morales said quote, “I appreciate the decision of the Government of Belize to set a date for your referendum. I urge the Belizean people to together find a peaceful solution to the territorial, insular and maritime dispute.” End of quote. Brackett said that the Government of Belize shouldn’t act in such a way to appease Guatemala.
Geovanni Brackett, President of COLA: “You know fear is something that you should be a motivation. If fear is going to be the reason why we do everything then that will justify everything from prostitution to human trafficking to everything else. That is not the position that COLA takes. What the government did is diplomatic stupidity if I can use such a language because we, one we went to sign a compromise without consulting with the people, we agreed to a set date, Guatemala backed out on that date, the diplomatic position we should have taken is to say ‘well since Guatemala has backed out we will no longer have confidence in this process.’ but we continue to appease Guatemala by agreeing to a new set date, separate dates not only did we do that but we changed our referendum laws to a simple majority to accommodate Guatemala again and so today again we are accommodating them again.”
The release ended by sending a warning to the Government of Belize, informing them, that if there are any dishonest efforts made to encourage Belizeans to support the ICJ, it will be met with great opposition.